Senate debates

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Matters of Public Importance

Military Superannuation Pensions

5:28 pm

Photo of Alex GallacherAlex Gallacher (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

My point is that we are appropriately looking after members of the defence community. The special needs of military service are met more generously than is the case with the average Commonwealth civilian schemes—and rightly so. The risks for those who serve in the military are very clear and self-evident, but these Commonwealth superannuation pensions provide a guaranteed source of income that, very importantly, is not subject to market fluctuations. If we look at what has happened to people in superannuation in the private sector, they have been subject to the GFC and they are subject to market fluctuations. Very importantly, these schemes we are talking about are not.

A military superannuation pension is not necessarily a measure of the person's complete financial situation. Many complete 20 years of glorious service and retire prior to retirement age. They go on to have another career, easily supplemented by a pension. I have worked with and I have represented members of the Air Force who have then been engaged in the service industry, in particular at Armaguard or any of those industries, where they very clearly supplemented a Defence Force pension with another career and they got another nine per cent in superannuation, which is perhaps now going up to 12 per cent.

The reality is the pension is not designed simply to be indexed in the same way as the age pension. The availability of the service pension also recognises those people who have served in a theatre of war, in a conflict zone or a highly dangerous situation. Quite properly, as Senator Feeney outlined earlier, the current notional employer contribution rate for the DFRDB is 33.3 per cent. That is a contribution significantly—more than three times—higher than the nine per cent of the superannuation guarantee. So people are not in invidious terms here. I understand that they have a widely held and deeply felt grievance.


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